The Raid In Prague — Chapter Two

FEEDING THE DEMONS, a novel by Alex Alvarova

Translated from the Czech by Marc Di Duca

This book is a lie.

Dedicated to all those who have helped me spread untruths in world of a million cloned truths.

To Kathleen Bailey whose fight against Russia’s ‘active measures’ deserve respect and gratitude from us all. She was the first person who show politicians the extent of the danger we face today. She is a person for whom I have huge admiration.

Moscow, 1996

Buried within a gargantuan building at Znamenka Street 14/1, a structure erected at the height of the Soviet Brutalism style, a top-secret meeting of the Russian Federation’s chiefs of staff was taking place. The topic — possible changes to Russia’s military doctrine.

General Viktor Nikolayevich Samsonov, head of the chiefs of staff, had just finished giving a presentation on a new, revolutionary way of waging war.

„New, nonmilitary resources, such as we have been building up since the 1980s, alongside a focus on assets for waging an information war, will enable us to strike the enemy’s strategic communications, limiting their decision-making capabilities. Am I being clear? I’m talking about key politicians and state officials, disrupting the system of government and undermining the mentality, opinions and general morale of the population.“

Samsonov received short, lukewarm applause. His gold and crimson medals hung motionlessly, a drowsy silence filled the room. A lethargic fly moseyed across the polished mahogany table.

One of the generals suddenly had the displeasure to realise that the man sitting next to him had the smelliest of feet. In order to turn his head away from the stench, he unfortunately had to face Samsonov, who took the gesture as a sign the general had something to contribute.

„Please, Nikolai Vasiliyevich. What’s your take on the matter?“

Whether he wanted to or not, the mildly disgruntled and unprepared general now had to make something up on the spot. „That’s all well and good, but it’s all theory. It fails to address the urgent need we have to modernize infantry and tanks. The money just isn’t there.“

At the end of the table a hand went up. It belonged to a recent newcomer to the chiefs of staff. He had been chosen personally by prime minister Chernomyrdin on the recommendation of a former KGB officer, an advisor to the mayor of St Petersburg. The generals still couldn’t remember the new kid’s name — Valery Gerasimov.

General Samsonov nodded gently towards the young newbie. „Please, Valery.“

„General, looking at the current economic and oil price forecasts, I think we have little choice. Modernizing tanks is of little use if we don’t acquire the same offensive capacity on other, perhaps more unexpected fronts. While the West thinks we are crumbling, let’s begin implementing this idea and leave them thinking we can’t afford tanks. It gains us time. We need to renew our behavioural psychology capabilities, information technology and active measures.“

The young Gerasimov received a praiseful glance from his superior. „This boy has potential,“ Samsonov thought to himself, „he has no fear and understands the new reality. If only there was just one more of his kind among these half-wits. Young people should be given more of a chance.“

Prague, 1996

The U Čápů restaurant in Prague’s Smíchov district was never anything luxurious. Wealthy taxi gang bosses and state officials from nearby offices were its usual clients. Prague’s taxi drivers were known for brazenly ripping off tourists heading into Europe’s most beautiful city from the airport, tourists who had no idea of local prices or the exchange rate of the day. Naturally, the gang capos had to pay off the local Russian mafia who, in turn, ensured high-level protection in the shape of local authority officials who saw no evil, nor heard much either. These corrupt bureaucrats handed out operating licences to anyone who provided them with a regular supply of cash, and could never quite find good enough reason to rescind one.

Whenever a tourist made so much noise about being ripped off that the police had to get involved, and one of those bureaucrats, in a fit of conscience, miraculously regained his senses, he would often find himself confronted by a gang of drunk youths on the way home, and order would be restored. The politicians were the bureaucrats’ superiors and all of them were part of the same system.

After a four-year stint in parliament, the less successful of these corrupt politicians would normally purchase an unusually cheap piece of land on the outskirts of Prague, as well as acquiring a brand-new Mercedes, its faultless ownership documents and a visit to the spray shop often concealing its true origin.

The more successful would end up on the boards of huge limited companies whose activities were a bit of a mystery. Borya Kustich, capo di tutti capi of the Russian gangs, never left anything to chance. He didn’t like surprises.

Old green awnings coated with Smíchov grime, filthy windows, plates of cheap food and a cosy, pine-clad interior with bench seating and big oak tables — that was U Čápů. Walls adorned with rather garish mirrors and beer ads, not the cleanest of tablecloths and beer-soaked cardboard all created the setting your ordinary Czech drinker loved.

This kind of crass pub is most popular among locals and the Russian owner was well aware of the fact. It was a prospering business, but this wasn’t only down to the lunches served to the staff of companies in the neighbourhood or breakfasts for taxi drivers. The nightclub in the cellar was a place where, come evening time, you could bag a prostitutes or even an illegal weapon from the recently concluded war in the Balkans.

It was a Saturday, the day when turnover was at its peak in the evening. Since early morning, a sign had been hanging on the door bearing the words „Closed for company event“.

Two waiters took turns to wait outside the locked entrance. They smoked while waiting for food delivery vans. When they arrived, the waiters showed them the way to the backstreet where it was easier to unload straight into the kitchen. A passer-by might have noticed their green U Čápů aprons and the fact that they were quite tall, but most of all it was their faces that caught the eye.

Czechs often have a rather unanimated lifestyle, hence men over forty often develop a round face, absence of any sharp features — the word doughy might spring to mind.

This was hardly a description you could apply to the two guys in the aprons. For more experienced, Czech criminal investigators, the chiselled, somewhat scarred faces of two Afghan War veterans were a red flag.

In the attic of the building opposite, a special unit of the Czech police called, URNA was just setting up an observation post.

There was an American in the attic, the other officers attempting communication with him in abysmal English. The FBI had asked the Czech authorities to help break up Russian mafia networks that had gained far too much influence in Miami and New York and begun to outmanoeuvre local law enforcement bodies.

* * *

„Here we go!“ exclaimed unit head David Drábek, and at once everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and fell silent. Two telescopes, a camera with a zoom lens and a directional microphone appeared through the half-open windows.

Meanwhile, a white van bearing the sign ‘Mirror Framers’ had pulled up by the curb below. Nobody got out. Up in the attic flat, the microphone picked up the driver speaking in mumbled Russian to the waiters who showed him the way to the backstreet. The van went round the block where two other men were waiting to open the car doors and the back entrance to the pub.

Two minutes later all hell was let loose. A man with a completely shaved head and scarily large biceps jumped out of the van. „Move!“ he barked, flinging open the doors through which he began roughly dragging young women dressed in badly fitting overcoats. All the girls had on under those coats was lacy underwear and suspenders, and in the unheated van they were trembling with cold. They moved from the van to the door as fast as possible, spending the shortest amount of time possible outside.

At another window, this time at the back of an administrative building belonging to a gas company, those observing didn’t miss a single step. Under deputy unit head Petr Kolar, the second team were watching the pub’s rear entrance from their observation point. „The whores are here,“ the Czech police officer announced to his American counterpart. The FBI officer smiled with satisfaction and took the telescope. So he hadn’t flown to Prague for nothing. Things were looking promising. They would wait for the what the evening brought.

Moscow, 1996

The young Gennady Bauer gave a deep sigh. He had just returned from studying in Wharton, Pennsylvania and was feeling a little anxious. It wasn’t every day you got to speak to Russia’s richest man. Fully aware of his superiority, the oligarch in the leather chair on the other side of the table nodded to Gennady to take a seat:

„Tell me about yourself, Gennady.“

„I’m, er, pleased to meet you, Mikhail Borisovich. Er…“ Gennady felt his throat go dry and an urge to cough. „I got my MBA at Wharton and studied theoretical physics at the Moscow State University.“

They glanced at one another. They were both around the same age. One had grown up on the squalid streets of Moscow, the other was the son of a prominent apparatchik who had invested everything he stole into his son’s education.

„How is your father, Gennady?“

„They discharged him from hospital a week ago. He had a bypass. Looks like it went well.“

„That’s good. I’ve known him for donkey’s years, though we didn’t always see eye to eye. I have a lot of respect for him. What made you go off to America to study?“

Gennady became slightly tense. This could be a trap.

„I am a loyal Russian citizen, Mikhail Borisovich. I am the first Russian to study there legally, not as an emigrant.“

Russia’s wealthiest man, Mikhail Borisovich Kurkov, owner of the oil giant Avaz, laughed out loud: „Gennady, drop the patriotic bullshit. I’m not the eager komsomolets everyone assumes I am. I’m a crook like everyone else here. I don’t see any reason to pretend otherwise. That’s just the way it is.“

Gennady Bauer frowned involuntarily, but he didn’t say a word. His new employer continued.

„I’ve heard a lot of good things about you. I need a talented person with perfect English and Western manners to run my new Eximp Bank. The guys from Brighton Beach tell me you’re the best.“

Gennady was an innate introvert. He didn’t like situations where he had to deal with people he didn’t know. But he had had to learn how to. His father wouldn’t have it any other way. In Pennsylvania, this shy boy from Moscow had become a self-confident young man, at least on the face of it. He was, after all, a Russian, a nation whose ancestors had learnt time and again that their fate lay mostly in the hands of chance and those in power. Overlords were unpredictable and you could never be too careful.

„Well, yes. I got good marks. While studying I worked for a while as an advisor for a few real estate companies in Florida. And for Mr Kustich’s bank.“

„Mr Kustich is a cunning crook,“ exclaimed the oil tycoon and once again gave a wide, self-confident smile.

Gennady hastily took his leave. As he walked away, it occurred to him that Mikhail Borisovich Kurkov might one day pay a high price for that sort of cynicism. But so what, he had got the job. He went to call his dad.

* * *

Once Gennady Bauer had left, Kurkov turned to a man who had been standing the whole time at the rear of the office: „What do you think?“

„A Superb brain, gets results, he’s a godsend. Definitely one you would want to keep out of the competition’s hands.“

Avram was Kurkov’s righthand man. Oil baron Kurkov didn’t trust anyone like he trusted Avram. Kurkov had grown up on a rough housing estate and could fend for himself. He’d started out with the mafia, but his technical talent and mathematical brain meant he was destined for bigger and better things. Avram was the complete opposite. He was from a family of seasoned apparatchiks. His parents had worked within the Party structure, his mother had even done a stint in the KGB.

Avram knew all the tricks you needed to survive. He could speak the lingo of the state bureaucrats. He understood how their brains worked. He knew the anger they felt for all those on the outside, the arrogance of the apparatchiks as they showed contempt for those who had grown rich. And he knew the aching grudge they felt as they made their way home from their offices to Moscow’s dreary high-rise estates. The bureaucratic aristocracy — the third pillar of power in Russia after the army and the mafia.

„Every power structure has three pillars. It’s almost like in the West,“ thought

Kurkov to himself, „but they call their pillars legislative, executive and judicial. Three just like here. Where would I be without Avram?“

West Hollywood, 1996

Scott Brennan rocked himself back and forth in a black director’s chair, quietly savouring a brief moment of triumph. He was enjoying the feeling of being his own boss at last. On the glass door of his exquisitely designed office in West Hollywood was the name Brennan & Co. He couldn’t stop looking at it. He lit a cigar, a thing he only did to celebrate victory.

Julie bustled into the office and, slightly irritated, put the day’s post onto the desk — important letters marked ‘asap’ at the top of the pile — before going out again, leaving only a faint aroma of some insipid perfume behind her. He couldn’t afford to pay her at the moment and she knew it. Despite the fact, she had resigned along with Scott from Goldman Sachs and joined him here. She was like a dog that was prepared to die with its master if need be. He’d never once asked her why she did it. But he had an inkling.

He’d also never once given her reason to feel offended. He had never tried to pull her. He didn’t make macho jokes around her. He didn’t harass her. He asked her for her opinion. He was truly grateful for every silent step she took. He never forgot to say thank you. He had never demanded sex. And he understood that this was why she was throwing in her lot with him. She reminded him of Ann from his student days. But a lot of water had passed under the bridge since then.

The room gradually filled with acrid smoke from the cigar he had chosen at The Lone Wolf. The shop’s name attracted Scott. He had always stopped by there when he wanted to celebrate some small triumph at Goldman.

After five years of exhausting struggle with various rivals around Milken, he had thrown his towel into the ring and opened his very own consultancy. He had the feeling he had enough experience behind him. So why not work for himself? The time had come.

* * *

Scott was jolted from his wandering thoughts by the sound of the door.

It was his business partner. He stopped in the door and began to speak somewhat hesitantly:

„They said we should go and pick up the rest of our stuff — they’ve put it into storage boxes.“

„Forget it, give them a call, let them throw it out,“ said Scott, exhaling a cloud of smoke. The wind caught the palm tree in the garden. He got up and opened the window — it was getting difficult to see through the haze in the room. The smoke slowly began to billow out into the garden with a robust helping hand from the ceiling fan.

They’d joined Goldman Sachs at the same time and had also simultaneously decided they’d had enough.

„I want to have air-con in here,“ said Scott casually.

His partner said nothing, but two lines of concern appeared across his forehead.

„When should we start?“ he asked tersely. Scott put down his cigar, crossed to the door and stuck a sign on it saying WAR ROOM.

„There. Our first tactical meeting tomorrow at ten. Leave the strategy up to me.

Don’t be late.“

Scott‘s business partner silently agreed. He knew that when it came to battle strategy, there was little point in trying to compete with Scott. Scott should have joined the navy — he’d have had a more illustrious career there, for sure.

The sudden change in circumstances was beginning to make the partner feel despondent, and he was afraid his mood would bring Scott down, so he quickly left.

Finding himself on his own again, Scott began to think. He poured himself a glass of bourbon and unwrapped a new flipchart. In thick marker pen he wrote on the first page: Outsiders?

Prague, 1996

In the basement bar beneath U Čapů, the doors of the ladies toilets suddenly flew open. It was shortly before 10pm. A scantily clad girl burst in, ran to the washbasin, spat out the contents of her mouth, and tried to be sick before sticking her fingers down her throat. Her whole body was shaking.

Oksana was fixing her smudged lipstick in the mirror when the girl stormed in. „You alright?“ she asked Lilya.

There was no answer. She seemed to be crying. She had stuck her head under the tap and was taking huge gulps of water. She mumbled something back.

Oksana waited until Lilya had got over her fit and turned the water off. She wiped her face affectionately and took her into her arms. Lilya began to sob, jerking like a machine out of control. Oksana could feel how terribly thin Lilya was. She wasn’t getting enough to eat, it seemed.

„It’ll be OK. You’ll get used to it soon enough…“ she said automatically, not letting go of the poor girl. She was worried about her. Like Oksana, she was from Ukraine, from a small village in the Carpathians called Lavochne. All she had ever known were a few neighbours, the village church and the field behind their cottage.

„I want to die,“ said Lilya suddenly, her voice absent of any emotion. She stopped crying and gazed at her puffy face in the mirror.

„You have to learn how to suck properly, otherwise they’ll bump you off.“ It was the cold, naked truth and Lilya knew it. But again she declared: „I want to die.“

Oksana was glad Lilya had stopped blubbering. She always cried for such a long time until red marks appeared on her face, marks that couldn’t be covered over with make-up or even powder. She sprinkled a small amount of white powder onto a mirror and divided it in two with her comb. She handed Lilya a small tube of rolled up paper. „Here, have mine, that will get you going again.“

Lilya drew the powder up into her nose. „Thanks,“ she said in a feeble voice.

„Ready?“ asked Oksana softly.

Lilya gave a token nod.

She attempted a smile, and before leaving the ladies she covered her face with a thick layer of cheap powder.

„Where were you so long?“ barked one of the waiters. „Sergei is looking for you.“ Oksana strode towards where one of the most powerful Russian mafia bosses in Europe — Sergei Kravchuk, known to his friends as Serge — was sitting.

Bare chested, he was stuffing sushi into his mouth. She blocked his view of Lilya following behind as the Russian pop duo TATU’s hit Nas nedogonjat, nas nedogonjat! There not gonna get us! There not gonna get us… blared out from the speakers.

„Serge is my nicest guy,“ said Oksana so that everyone would hear, before licking her wet lips and delving her hand between his legs. The mafia boss, instantly forgetting he’d been intending to discipline a disobedient whore, closed his eyes in bliss and sipped his champagne.

* * *

Oksana had been a talented programmer and one of the first students to get a place at the Kyiv Technical University. Just before she was about to start her first year, she had responded to an advert looking for students to pick apples in Germany for three euros an hour, an incredible amount of money for a Ukrainian at the time!

But a detail she failed to notice was that the ad required only girls to do manual work. On boarding the bus, a guy claiming to be the organizer of the trip took their passports away, claiming it was so that things would go more smoothly on the border — it was common practice.

The journey was long and slow. Towards evening they pulled up at an old cowshed. The girls were forced off the bus into a field, then into some cold, dark barracks. Several hours of fear and quiet weeping later, a group of construction workers turned up out of nowhere. All the girls were raped and beaten. The girl who had been sitting next to Oksana on the bus had two teeth knocked out and her nose was broken. Then the guards came for their turn.

Three girls with injuries to their faces were killed immediately, another two met their end after two days of constant rape. They were given nothing to eat. The aim was to break their will. After three days without sleep and a constant stream of stinking labourers, they no longer offered any resistance. The dirty faces of these once beautiful girls became dull with exhaustion, pain and complete apathy.

On the third night, the “organizer” arrived in the company of a very well-dressed woman. The two shone torches into the girls’ faces. Weak with exhaustion, even standing up was too much for some of them. Yevgenia who ran several of Borya’s brothels had arrived on a shopping spree. She passed among the girls, browsing.

„This one, this one as well, not that one, who knocked her around like that? This one, that one. Hmm, who do we have here? she’s a looker. What’s your name?“ Instead of answering, Oksana spat in her face. One of the guards immediately jumped up and was about to plant a fist in Oksana’s face, but Zhenya, as the woman was known in mafia circles, she stopped him with a commanding gesture. „Hmm. This one I like. I’ll take her, too.“

She then climbed into a black Mercedes and left.

They split the girls into two groups. Those herded into the white van departed for a much worse fate than awaited Oksana. All she remembers is how they led them through the darkness, their hands tied, their feet clumsily tripping across rough ground.

They were driven to a small, obscure, single-runway airfield where they boarded a tiny, Czech-made L 410 plane. Oksana was familiar with these aircraft — her father had once flown regularly to building sites in Odesa. They were given something to eat and a mild sedative, before landing at Ostrava-Mošnov airport in the Czech Republic. There they were made to disembark at the end of the runway and, under the veil of darkness, loaded into a white van. After six hours on the road, they arrived at their final destination, a house set in an untended garden on the edge of Prague’s Prosek district.

The house stood in a completely normal residential area, one where no one says hello to each other and neighbours don’t really know one another as most of the old houses are rented out to foreigners. This house adjoined an abandoned cemetery, only a rusty, crooked gate covered in ivy visible from the street.

The ugliness of the house from the outside was accentuated by the blinds, yellowed with age and permanently blanking out the windows. The largest room in the middle of the building had one bricked up window. The house was leased by an anonymous limited company that paid up front, meaning the owner had even allowed some minor building work such as soundproof windows and doors, as well as filling in the window.

Once there, the sedated girls tumbled instantly onto some dirty mattresses and fell asleep.

The next day was the first time they were given anything proper to eat, wolfing the food down like starving dogs. That night they did their first shift in a brothel belonging to powerful mafia boss Boris Kustich, known to his friends as Borya.

* * *

The group on the fifth floor of the gas company reported in: „The foxes are in the cage, we can proceed.“ Deputy commander of the operation, Petr Kolar gave a satisfied nod.

Meanwhile David Drabek had gone down to the cars to inform the occupants that everything was ready. They were two blocks away behind a wooden gate in a disused yard. From there they sped to block both entrances without making much noise. Everything was going like clockwork.

The Afghan veterans were taken care of by two of the youngest and fastest members of the team. In two minutes the team were all inside. Drabek ordered the lights to be switched off and for everyone to don night vision headsets. Kolar was leading the second team from the front entrance. Gunfire punctuated the first few minutes, but no one was killed. In twenty minutes it was all over.

Inside, they discovered around eighty men and fifty girls. Members of the team in bulletproof vests and balaclavas led them out one-by-one and pushed them into waiting police vehicles. The Russian and Ukrainian mafia bosses and their sidekicks left in a silent daze, stunned by the fact the Czech police had dared raid their property. One of the girls was crying and begging one of the policemen in broken Czech to let her go home. The officer held her head to prevent her from banging it on the door of the police van. Another drug addict whore, he thought to himself.

Drabek was standing at the main door looking at every face as it passed by. Borya’s wasn’t among them. But he must have been there! It was his birthday party! He could hardly believe it.

„He didn’t show up,“ he uttered into his radio.

Petr Kolar was younger than Drabek, but even he knew what this meant. Someone was leaking information. Things weren’t looking good. For the first time in his life he felt fear. Instinctive fear. It took him back to the moment a month ago when Borya Kustich’s people had first contacted him. They’d asked him to keep them informed. He’d told them where to go.

Two hours later, a Czech public prosecutor lifted the receiver of his phone. He got through immediately and in a shaky voice whimpered: „I swear, I swear, I had no idea about it. I don’t know how this could…“ He was almost in tears.

„You know what to do,“ announced the voice at the other end in a heavy Carpathian accent.

* * *

The raid was over. Borya was sitting comfortably in one of his restaurants a few streets away. Gazing at the river, he was smoking a cigarette. This was his last day in Prague. He was due to fly to Miami next day. He had an agreement with the Italian mafia: „You hand over ten Russian and Ukrainian bosses that are stepping on our toes to the FBI in Prague, and in exchange we’ll allow you a bit of territory in Manhattan and Miami.“

It was May and the days were growing longer. The first floor of this luxury restaurant provided glorious views of the river and majestic Prague castle. He adored these summer evenings by the Vltava. He looked out at the orange-red glare of the setting sun before searching for something in a bag. Fishing out a SIM card, he inserted it into a brand new Nokia 880 and dialled a number. The voice at the other end spoke English.

„The job’s done, you can go.“

„OK, but that young Czech policeman is being a bit awkward. We made him an offer a month back, but he refused to cooperate. Should I take care of him?“

„No,“ said Borya sharply. No dead cops. The Italians in Florida had taught him that.

„This morning they arrested our courier at the airport with a consignment — put some of what they seized in his bag. He’ll get a few years for possessing cocaine. My public prosecutor will look after the rest — that’s what I pay him for.“

The voice from the US East Coast switched to Russian: „Ponyal. Poka.“

Boris hung up, removed the SIM and held it over the candle on his table. As it curled up with the heat, he noticed that a few small blisters had appeared on fingertips. He felt nothing. He had had no feeling in his fingers since returning from the gulag. The waiter watched in mild astonishment as Kustich took the phone he had used only once, and the melted SIM, and tossed both into an ashtray.

The waiter took the ashtray and inquired: „Should I put this in the press, sir?“

„Yes,“ answered Boris and gave a contented smile. This was his best year yet in business. And they ain’t seen nothing yet, he fancied to himself.

New York, Manhattan, 1996

It was around three o’clock in the morning at that time in New York. A telephone rang on the bedside table of a luxury apartment with views across Manhattan. Karim Targayev fumbled around for his Nokia and took the call. „What’s up?“ he mumbled sleepily.

The voice at the other end of the line started to rant and rave, something about betrayal. „Calm down, stop shouting. A raid? How many? All ten? And what about Borya? He didn’t show up? To his own birthday party?“

The man at the other end continued, now even more annoyed. Targayev interrupted him. „You’re my man. Why are you still stuck at the embassy in Prague? They should have transferred you a long time ago!“

The voice whined on. Targayev listened patiently then said: „Thanks, I owe you.“

He put down the phone, but couldn’t fall back to sleep. Putting on the light, he looked out from the thirtieth floor across night-time New York. His huge windows always gave a sense of space down to the ground and up into the sky. He liked the feeling, it made him calm. He felt like a golden eagle, aquilla chrysaetos, the god of the skies in Uzbekistan where he was born.

He sat down at his white Carrera marble desk. He had a nostalgic love for this Fifth Avenue apartment. The interior had been designed by Ilona Kemp, originally from Hungary and wife of the developer. It had been done out exactly to his tastes. She certainly had a feel for oriental opulence — she knew what Russians, Ukrainians, Tajiks and Uzbeks liked.

He lit a cigarette and contemplated for a moment. The news he had received from Prague could potentially alter his entire his future, for better or for worse. Every crisis provided opportunities and solutions. And this was definitely a crisis.

He couldn’t get to sleep that night. At daybreak he picked up the phone and dialled a number. „Targayev. Tell Ilona, I’ve changed my mind. I’m not lending her the diamonds for the wedding, they are a gift. Just as she wanted. Stop by at the office, I’ll leave instructions.“

He’d been concerned for a long time. Ilona, wife of developer Trevor Kemp who was involved in his money laundering operations, had always been a real gold digger. She went about things in the slyest of ways. For years he had toyed with the idea of having her bumped off. It would solve a lot of problems.

In the end he’d managed to corner her without bloodletting, just a bit of intrigue. That retard Kemp can’t even tie his shoelaces properly — she does everything for him and without her he’d have long since gone bankrupt. What an effort it had required to split them up, he mulled indignantly. She wouldn’t show him the door even if he screwed his lover right in front of her very eyes. She has nerves of steel and a calculating brain.

As well as choosing just the right ambitious starlet from the US for Kemp, Karim had also convinced Trevor that Ilona, Eastern European to the core, would spoil his image when he stood for the presidency. „And you could one day be president, Trevor. You’ve got what it takes…“

Even now he gave an involuntary scowl as he recalled how he’d had to flatter that mentally inferior idiot. But now everything’s just as it should be. And that greasy gigolo of Ilona’s, he’s just perfect! He laughed out loud, imagining that Hungarian cougar with her new Italian job, ten years her junior.

He quickly got dressed and summoned his driver. He still wanted to have a word with the vice president who was about to enter the race to the White House with a young Democrat playboy. He had the same problem there, too — behind the playboy was one very determined woman.

Women should bear children and keep their mouths shut, he thought to himself with revulsion… The old ways of the world still prevailed in Uzbekistan.

The sun was just coming up over Kemp Tower.

Author, podcaster, propaganda expert. Vancouver B.C. Looking for an agent for her new thriller.